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IU Health to “Live Tweet” State’s First Surgery on Twitter

| Indianapolis—For the first time in Indiana, what goes on behind closed doors in the operating room will be made public on the social media platform Twitter.

Starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 13, Indiana University Health (@IU_Health) will host the state's first "Twittercast" of a live surgery, posting real time "play-by-play" commentary, updates and photos from the operating room while taking questions posted by followers online. Through Twitter, the public will have a virtual all-access pass to observe the entire process as surgeons at Indiana University Health University Hospital remove a kidney from a living donor and immediately take the organ to the operating room next door to transplant it into a recipient.

"There are a lot of myths and misconceptions that surround organ transplantation," said Tim Taber, M.D., medical director for the kidney transplant program at IU Health and associate professor of clinical medicine for Indiana University School of Medicine ."Twitter provides us with a great tool to educate people about the living kidney donation and transplant process. It's our hope that, by offering a window into what happens during a living kidney donation and transplant surgery, more Hoosiers will be encouraged to give the gift of life through organ donation."

Dr. Taber, a transplant nephrologist with IU Health Physicians Kidney Diseases who also serves as the chief medical officer for the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization (IOPO), will be in the operating room and available to answer questions posted on Twitter during the surgery.

Those on Twitter can follow the Twittercast by using and following the hashtag #calebskidney, named after the recipient, Caleb Johnson (@calsjohn, on right in photo).

Meet the patients
Johnson, a 31-year-old Indiana University graduate from Merom, Indiana, developed kidney failure from a fast-acting form of Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a condition where the millions of tiny filters in the kidney are so badly scarred and damaged that they no longer filter blood properly. Johnson will receive a lifesaving kidney from his friend Colin Newton (on left in photo), a 33-year-old family man from the same town, located about 30 miles south of Terre Haute.

"I hope this Twittercast opens everyone's eyes to the need for more living donors, especially donors who aren't related to the organ's recipient," said Johnson, an Indiana University alumnus who had to leave his job as a manager at a coal gasification plant because of his devastating disease. "I was fortunate enough to have a friend like Colin to be there for me in my time of need, but not everyone is that lucky." Johnson and Newton have been friends for more than four years and have a shared interest in outdoor activities like fishing and hunting.

"I'm just glad to be able to help my buddy make it through the most difficult time in his life," said Newton, a welder at a refinery in eastern Illinois. "Hopefully, Caleb will soon be able to return to work and get back to doing the things he loves most."

Facts about kidney donation
The kidney is, by far, the most demanded organ needed for transplant. More than 90 percent of the more than 100,000 Americans waiting on the national transplant list for a solid organ transplant are in need of a new kidney.

IU Health, home to one of the largest transplant centers in the nation and the largest kidney transplant program in the state, performs close to 500 lifesaving transplants each year. Of that number, nearly half are kidney transplants - many of which are made possible thanks to living kidney donors. To learn more about how to become a living kidney donor visit


Who: Meet patients Caleb Johnson and Colin Newton and possible family members along with medical staff..

When: 1 p.m. Monday, June 11

Where: Meet in the lobby of IU Health University Hospital, located at 550 University Boulevard. A member of the IU Health Public Relations team will be available to escort reporters to the news conference room.

R.S.V.P.: To ensure adequate parking for all media, please contact Gene Ford ( or Kristofer Karol ( ) in advance if you plan on attending.


Meet Caleb and Colin online now at Details on a news conference following the surgery, as well as post-surgery media availabilities for the patients, will be released next week.


When: Starting 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 13. Both surgeries are expected to wrap up no later than 1 p.m.

Where : Follow IU Health on Twitter at the handle @IU_Health or the hashtag #calebskidney

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Go to IU Health Newsroom